'Population self-reliance in health' and COVID-19: The need for a 4th tier in the health system

J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2022 Jan-Mar;13(1):100354. doi: 10.1016/j.jaim.2020.09.003. Epub 2020 Sep 21.


The COVID-19 pandemic is straining health systems globally. The current international biomedical focus for disease control and policies fails to include the resource of a population's capacity to be self-reliant in its health care practices. The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda ('the knowledge of life') and Local Health Traditions (LHTs) in India understand that health is about Svasthya, 'being rooted within'; a concept that includes the relationship and balance between the individual, their families, communities and the environment in creating and maintaining their own health. This 'population self-reliance in health' is the focus of the 4th tier in the health system which honours and respects an individual's capacity for self-care and their inherent responsibility to the health system and its values. It encourages the inclusion of this knowledge in the creation of health systems and in the policies that direct them. Research and practice into the 4th tier will provide health systems and policy information into how communities are managing the COVID-19 epidemic. These insights will help in the creation of future health systems that are better aligned to the 'self-reliance in health' of individuals and their communities.

Publication types

  • Review